Tag Archives: Cooking
December 3, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Let’s get the tough part out of the way. This blog post is going to feature expensive meats firmly settled in Treat Yo’ Self territory.
Yet, I was torn. The selection of meat from Mattingly is of premium quality with prices that reflect that commitment. Of the meat I sampled, the New York Strip is $13.75 a pound, pork chops are $5.50 per pound, and the hamburger patties are $3.50 per pound.
We’re all regular folks, here. You know and I know that the prices made us gulp. But if you’re going to go big, go with Mattingly.
Bringing home Mattingly Meat was like sneaking into the kitchen of my favorite steakhouse, clunking the chef over the head, and stealing slabs of beef from the fridge. My galley kitchen was instantly upgraded when I cooked a New York strip.
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May 30, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Full blogger disclosure: I work at the company featured in this blog post. A girl’s gotta eat, amirite?
Want to learn how to make a family recipe more healthful?
The Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge will pair three local cooks with some top Louisville chefs to spruce up recipes and make them all shiny and healthy.
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May 24, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
It looks like I’ll have tomato slices and balsamic vinegar for dinner. Everything I want to really eat is trapped away behind walls of tinplate steel.
My can opener broke. The little wheels refused to stay on track and turned the mouth of the can into a dangerous, jagged accident waiting to happen. I tossed my broken buddy into the trash with barely a thought to this gadget that had helped me eat for almost 10 years. A few days later, I’m beside myself with remorse over how much I took this tool for granted.
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May 8, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
The festival is made up of dozens of free classes that cover an impressive array of topics. This is the second year of the festival. The daylong event takes place Saturday, May 11, at the Main Branch of the library on York Street in Louisville.
Some of the topics that guest teachers will cover include how to make rockets, groom your pet, build a terrarium, take a conflict to small claims court, and much more. There are also a plentiful selection of food-related courses.
- How to set a table — and encourage good manners and great conversation (I’ll need a bigger table first)
- How to decorate mini-cupcakes — a series of quick lessons (Yumzies!)
- How to make delicious no-knead bread (You had me at “no-knead”)
- How to preserve food by canning — transforming seasonal fruits and vegetables to year-round staples, from jams to tomato sauce (One of my homemaker fantasies)
- How to make the lima beans that make Mayan Café famous (This class might fill up fast. Those beans are famous.)
- How to choose, sample and serve terrific cheeses (Does wine come with that class?)
- How to make spectacular salads — three recipes with varied ingredients, techniques and dressings (Oooh, this will probably be more than just ranch and cheese.)
March 5, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
I’m up for just about any recipe. But there are a few dishes I’d rather buy than make myself.
Sometimes, plain ol’ convenience wins out over the reward of creating something in your own kitchen. Time is in short supply these days (damn sequester), and I can’t always make everything lovingly from scratch. Instead, I shelve my ambitions and pick something off my shelf that only needs to be opened, eaten and enjoyed.
Here are a few foods that I would rather buy than make. Feel free to chime in.
- Bread. I don’t have a bread maker. I also don’t have the patience for dealing with a live, active culture like yeast. Why go through the trouble of cutting butter into flour, and kneading, and waiting, and baking, when I can just grab a slice from the 89-cent loaf I scored because of a Kroger manager’s special? This category also includes dinner rolls, biscuits and pita bread.
- Curry. My curry will never, ever be as good as the most mediocre curry in the most mediocre restaurant. I prefer not to try rather than have my hopes dashed.
- Salsa. I had a bad experience with homemade salsa. It involved two friends, some vegetables from the Trader Joe’s in Washington, D.C., and a Magic Bullet blender. Unfortunately, it did not involve any spices. That soupy mess has scarred me for at least another decade.
- Crackers. The Kitchn, one of my favorite food blogs, is always trying to tell me I can make my own crackers at home (here are 10 recipes). I’m sorry, but eff that. I turn to a box of crackers when I’m feeling all sort of feelings that only Golden Girls and cuddling with my dog can make better. Making my favorite feel-better snack from scratch takes away some of the comfort. It adds work. I can’t do it.
Hummus. I blame the tahini, a key hummus ingredient, for my aversion to making this dip on my own. I hate buying a condiment that only has one special purpose in the world. Can I put tahini on chicken, fish and steak? My fear is that the tahini will fester in the back of my cabinet between batches of hummus.
Sushi. Don’t even get me started. Jiro has spent his whole life becoming the master of raw fish and rice. I’m not going to even try.
What foods do you refuse to make?
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February 28, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Lots of those big white hats will descend on downtown Louisville this weekend.
Louisville will play host to the American Culinary Federation’s Southeast Regional Conference from March 1-4, 2013 at the Marriot downtown. Cooking competitions will take place at Sullivan University.
Here’s a blurb about the event:
… the conference brings together hundreds of foodservice professionals, chefs and students for networking, educational opportunities, cooking competitions, a trade show and demonstrations from the region’s best chefs, including several from the Louisville area.
Learn more about the conference here.
It doesn’t seem like the event is open to the public, which is understandable since this is an industry event for food professionals. But I wish you could just pop into some sessions for a small fee. Who wouldn’t want to take classes with names like Seductive Nutrition, Cooking with Kentucky Bourbon or Holy Shiitake?
January 24, 2013 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Brace yourself for a surprising confession.
I ate ramen noodles for the first time two weeks ago.
It seems criminal that it took me nearly three decades to eat this budget-friendly dish. The only time I was close to ramen as a child was when my mom only fixed ramen for my dad, who slurped up the noodles with baked chicken legs. It seemed like a “grown-up food,” so I stuck with my spaghetti. Then I went to college, where the halls of my all-girls dorm were thick with the smell of spice, salt and chicken, the hallmarks of a bowl of ramen. The smell was so pervasive that it dissuaded me from ever bringing those noodles into my life, budget be damned.
As with most of my food awakenings, Rob is the one who opened my eyes to the possibilities behind the red and yellow square packages. He grew up eating ramen noodles because “they were cheap, they were good and they were easy to make.” A couple of weeks ago, he came in with a Kroger bag full of ramen packages. I’m pretty sure his eyes twinkled.
It was time to give these noodles a whirl. He expertly boiled water and dropped the brick of wavy noodles into the pot. After pouring away most of the water, he sprinkled a chicken flavor packet into the now-flaccid noodles while simultaneously tossing them with a fork to ensure even flavor distribution. It was like watching Iron Chef. And the secret ingredient is … RAMEN.
I steamed some leftover bok choy to accompany the ramen (you know, to make it healthy) and helped myself to a bowl. My mind was blown. The ramen was so salty and spicy that I’m pretty sure I met my sodium intake for the day. The bok choy added some crunch to this tender noodle dish. My mind raced with all the vegetable additions I could make in the future.
Days after my awakening, a six-pack of chicken-flavored ramen sits patiently in the cabinet. But I won’t let almost 30 years pass before I eat ramen again.
November 21, 2012 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Do you need some helping getting dinner together tomorrow?
I’m fresh out of miracles. Instead, I have a good dose of keepin’ it real.
We are delusional in the weeks before Thanksgiving. We convince ourselves that we can cook a 20-pound turkey because Alton Brown says it’s easy. We fill our grocery cart with pounds and pounds of potatoes because boxed mashed potatoes will just not do. We buy a rolling pin and a pastry blender because this will be the year we finally make that pie crust from scratch. And we sincerely believe that from our kitchens will emerge a display of culinary prowess that would make Martha Stewart throw her panties at our feet in adoration.
That fantasy is a few turkey trots away from our realities. For 364 days of the year, dinner is something simple enough to fix after an eight-hour workday, be it pasta with a homemade mushroom cream sauce, scrambled eggs or a bowl of cereal. Why do we think we can pull off a full Thanksgiving spread?
We can’t. No one can achieve the high expectation we set for ourselves. And that’s why you made it to the blog today, because the turkey is still frozen, the mountain of potatoes haven’t been peeled and the butter just won’t blend with the flour for that pie crust.
I can’t save your disaster. But I have some tips to save your sanity.
- Stick with what you know. Do you have a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe? Do your friends rave about your fried corn? That’s what you need to cook for Thanksgiving. Everyone has a recipe that they have mastered over the years and made their own. Now is the time to whip it out of your recipe box (or iPad).
- Just make a salad. I can’t think of one Thanksgiving meal that included a salad. It’s not that my family is full of salad-haters; everyone’s just too busy with mashed potatoes and the like to put together some fresh greens. Buy a bag of pre-washed lettuce, toss it with sliced apples, dried cranberries, feta cheese, almond slivers, and a raspberry vinaigrette, and veg heads will be grateful.
- Think outside the casserole dish. There are lots of other items you can bring to the celebration besides food that your family and friends will appreciate. Run to your nearest dollar store and get some paper plates, napkins and cups.
- Never underestimate the power of a beverage. Be the cool cousin and bring a few bottles of wine. Is your family more conservative? Stop by a gas station and get some two-liters (bonus points if you get Coke Zero).
- Break it and bake it. Grab a pack of the ready-to-bake Nestlé Tollhouse cookie dough. No mixing and barely any work — you just separate the squares of dough, put on a baking sheet, and let cook in the oven. Dessert in less than an hour. What’s not to love?
- Be honest about your shortcomings. Just come right out and say you’re frazzled and can’t fulfill your culinary commitment. So what if the crust never came together? Your family and friends will love you anyway. And that’s what Thanksgiving is about.
October 5, 2012 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
It’s easy to save a little money if you are willing to look at something with new eyes. Take, for …
September 4, 2012 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
It took my husband and me 10 months to make it Savannah, Ga., for our honeymoon. And when we arrived, we ate our way through this great Southern city. The food is some of the finest that the South has to offer, and the dishes represent the best parts of living in this region: simple, homegrown and full of love. Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room in Savannah is worthy of a few extra dollars.